Brain Injury Awareness Month – June 2019
June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, an opportunity to bring attention to the effects of brain injuries and the measures to take to help prevent them. Brain injuries can occur at all ages and be caused by trauma from falls, car accidents, sports, assaults or other health issues, such as experiencing a stroke. Each year in Canada, more than 20,000 people are hospitalized for traumatic brain injuries, which can range from mild to severe and include concussions.
Concussions remain a serious public health issue because of their frequency and potential for serious short- and long-term consequences on brain health, especially among young people. In 2016-17, hospital emergency departments diagnosed an estimated 46,000 children and youth with a concussion. Most of these were received during sport and recreation activities. In addition, knowledge of concussions has proven to be low among young people with 78% of youth aged 12 to 17 reporting that they know little about concussions.
Our Government wants to help make sport, physical activity and recreation safer for all Canadians and to help reduce the risk of injury. The key to this is prevention and awareness of how to recognize concussion and how to manage recovery. That includes making sure that people have access to evidence-based information and tools.
Over the last several years, the Government of Canada has supported an organization called Parachute to develop the Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport, as well as school and sport concussion protocols and a concussion awareness training tool for health professionals. I recently announced additional investments for Parachute to continue to work with key partners in support of our Government’s commitment to implement a national approach to increase the prevention, recognition and treatment of concussions in Canada. This important work will include increasing public awareness, expanding access of the SCHOOLFirst resource to schools across the country, and delivering bilingual online courses for parents, teachers and coaches.
Canada is also a world leader in concussion research. With funding from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian researchers have guided the development of concussion policies in sport, and clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of concussions in children, including the identification of children at risk for prolonged or persistent effects of concussion. CIHR continues to support concussion research with funding to the Canadian Traumatic Brain Injury Research Consortium and most recently with the establishment of a partnership with the U.S. National Institutes of Health that will identify biomarkers to improve the assessment of concussion in children and the monitoring of recovery and return to activity.
As Minister of Health, I am committed to working with partners to reduce the risks associated with sports and physical activity, to help reduce the number of brain injuries and to improve recovery. For more information, please visit the Government of Canada’s concussion and injury prevention web pages.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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